In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Sept. 17, 2020 Governor Newsom signed into law A.B. 685 requiring employers to adhere to stricter occupational health and safety rules. The new law also expands Cal/OSHA’s enforcement powers.
Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the new law will require employers to give workers written notification within one day of receiving notice of a “potential” exposure to COVID-19. Along with this notification, employers must also give employees information regarding COVID-19-related benefits to which the employee may be entitled. The employer must also provide employees with its plans for implementing and completing disinfection for a safe worksite. Moreover, an employer shall not retaliate against a worker for disclosing a positive COVID-19 test or diagnosis, or for disclosing an order to quarantine or isolate.
The new law also requires an employer that has a sufficient number of COVID-19 cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak, as defined by the State Department of Public Health, to report names, number, occupation, and worksite of positive COVID-19 cases to the local public health agency. Cal/OSHA is also given authority to shut down a workplace that creates an imminent hazard due to COVID-19 exposure risk.
If you feel your workplace is unsafe because of COVID-19 and/or you have questions relating to COVID-19 workplace exposures, contact Haeggquist & Eck, LLP online or call us at (619) 342-8000.